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a. Introduce the paper by providing a brief definition and description of the sociological theory.

b. Describe the theoretical sociological perspective. Explain how the world is viewed from this theoretical perspective.

c. Explain the sociological issue you are discussing from the point of view of your chosen sociological theory.

Thesis Statement

The following paper focuses on the issue of the various sociological theories and the special focus has to be on the topic of aging. Aging has become one of the major sociological issues these days as most people get older at a very young age. Many reasons have been found because of the aging process in the human beings. Aging and mortality is a very serious concern in the human beings because they are getting older at an age when they should be enjoying their youth and be lively like the people of their same age. There are certain causes of this aging process and this leads to many physical and psychological changes in the human body. There are certain sociological theories that can explain these issues vigorously. These theories are sociological theory, conflict theory and many others. As a result of aging, the cognitive decline begins in the human beings from the age of the 20s. The teenagers and the young people lose their ability of the things they should be doing at their age. These sociological theories can be a help in describing this problem in a serious manner. The varied reasons for this phenomenon can be described from two aspects of biological and psychological.

This essay would argue on the sociological aspects like the functionalist theory and the conflict theory on the topic of aging in the human beings.

Functionalism or the functionalist theory is one of the principal theories in sociology and it seems to be integral in terms of understanding the different social issues (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2017). The earlier mention of this theory has been found in the works of Emile Durkheim. This theory is one that focuses on the macro-level of the social structure. This does not concentrate on the micro-structure of the society i.e. the daily things of lives of the people. So, this theory focuses on the things that can influence the social status of the people as well as the various things of people’s lives on the long-term process (Ritzer & Stepnisky, 2017). The theorists who can be directly associated with this theory are Herbert Spencer, Talcott Parsons and Robert K. Merton.

This theory explains almost every part of the society and describes how this can contribute in the stability of the society as a whole (Scott, 2012). Society, at large, is more than all parts of this being added. Every part of the society should be functional so that it can contribute to the stability of the whole society. Society has to be looked as an organism as mentioned by Durkheim. Each and every part is necessary is essential so that it can secure a stable society on the whole (Henslin et al., 2015). This theory believes that no one can function alone and they have to function collectively to achieve the stable positions. This theory also describes that if one part fails or does not succeed to achieve its objectives, the other parts must act in some way.

Functionalism Theory

An example can be given regarding the aspect of functionalist theory is the fact that the state or the government provides scholarships to the students. The students get the education and then they get jobs. Then those students will get jobs and pay taxes that will in turn support the economical stability in the country. This functional theory on the social perspective is an indication of the illustration of the social institutions as a collective means to meet the individual needs as well as the social needs. This theory is also called the structural-functionalism because in this theory the aspects of social structures meeting the social needs are being discussed. The functionalist perspective of the theory concentrates on the fact that society is an interconnected whole and its parts are dependent on each other (Durkheim, 2013). Each part influences and is influenced by the other parts. Another example can be given that schools and colleges offer a great range of new technology to their students. As a result, many of the adults are returning to the schools and colleges so that they can learn these new technologies. The reason behind that is they need to work on those technologies at their workplaces.  The number of women has increased a great deal in the past years. This is why the policies in the workplaces regarding sexual harassment and job discrimination have been changed to protect them (Davidson, 2012).

The believers in this functionalist theory apply the words functional and dysfunctional so that they can explain the effects of social elements on the society. The description of those two terms can be given by saying that ‘functional’ means the elements that help to sustain the stability of the society and ‘dysfunctional’ means the elements that disrupt the stability of the society (Sylvester et al., 2012). Some kinds of activities are functional and dysfunctional at the same time. The example can be given as that of crime. It is dysfunctional at the sense that it results in physical violence, oppression and perhaps killing of human lives. It is also functional in the sense that it helps to create a heightened for the increased cohesion in society. The sociologists have found two types of functions in the society. These two types of functions are manifest and latent (Everett, 2013). The nature of the manifest functions is those which are intended and can be identified very easily. On the contrary, the latent functions are those which are not intended and hidden as well. The context of the single parent and the dual-earner families has contributed to a great effect in the number of children who are failing greatly in the schools. The reason behind this is the lack of supervision of their parents at home (Frantzeskaki, Loorbach & Meadowcroft, 2012).  

Conflict theory is one of the most important theories in the evolution of social change. This theory was invented by Karl Marx (Alexander, 2014). This theory describes that tensions and conflicts arise in the cases when there is an uneven distribution between power, money, resources and status. In this context, the meaning of power has to be regarded as material resources and wealth. It also refers to the politics control and the social institutions that help to make up the society (Alexander, 2014). The works regarding the conflict theory can be noticed regarding the fact of class conflict between the bourgeoisie (the capitalists) and the proletariat (the poor people) (Wright, 2016). This theory got a wider propaganda relating to the social increase of capitalism, power politics in Europe. This was the larger prospect and the entire focus was on the conflict that existed between the two mentioned classes because of their economic position within the society. This theory was arisen because there was an uneven distribution of resources between these two classes as well. Marx said in his theory that the concept of production of t consensus was in the social ‘superstructure’ (Shilling, 2012). Marx also explained that as the socio-economic condition of the proletariat began to worsen because the bourgeoisie class began to dominate the society with their capitalist power (Schumpeter, 2013). This time there was a strong need for the proletariat group to stand up against this and reveal to the entire world about their worsening condition.

Manifest and Latent Functions

These conflicts led to the path of the revolution among the proletariat group. This would probably help to ease the conflicts between the two classes. Then Marx also declared that if this change encouraged capitalism, the revolts would begin to grow. Instead of this, it would be the concept of socialism that would keep the peace and prosperity in the society (Alexander, 2014).  This theory has been revised, grown and modified over the years by several critics. The conflict theory has been drawn by several other theorists and has been used to develop several other theories like the feminist theory, post-structural theory, critical race theory, postcolonial theory, queer theory and many others.

Aging is a modern phenomenon in the modern day world. In the case of human beings, aging means the accumulation of changes in the human body over the time (López-Otín et al., 2013). These changes include the physical, psychological and social changes as well. The reasons for aging are many. This can be given as example is the reaction time of the human beings may get slow with age. The current theories that are related with this fact of aging are of damage concept and and accumulation of damage (DNA Oxidation) (Collins, 2014). The biological systems may begin to fail in aging process as well. The aspect of cell death in the body of the human beings may be responsible for this aging process as well. There are certain effects of this aging process. These are:-

  • Children may tend to lose their hearing power above the high frequency sounds beyond 20 KHz.
  • The female fertility can decline after the mid 20s.
  • Cognitive decline may begin in the human beings after the mid 20s.
  • Menopause among the women may occur in between 49 to 52 years of age.
  • Fall of hair may occur in the young people after 30s as well.
  • Young people can lose their reflex action at a very early age.
  • Another menace may occur in the people is that of cataract in the eyes.
  • Wrinkles may be cause in the face due to photo ageing i.e. being exposed in the sun for a long time.

The topic of aging can viewed in terms of the chosen theories like the structural-functional or the functionalist theory. According to this particular social perspective, social structures need to meet the social needs. There are three different underlying theories regarding this functional theory are disengagement theory, activity theory and continuity theory.

According to the disengagement theory, it is rational for the peope victims of aging to be disengaged because they have seen their friends and relatives die due to aging. This is why they also anticipate their own death (Kastenbaum, 2013).

Men and women disengage from society in different ways. Generally, men have a bigger impact on the society due to their careers and women have a larger impact on the society due to socio-emotional contexts. People disengage from society as they retire and get older and lose their credibility of working and gaining knowledge (Kastenbaum, 2013). According to the people can stay active despite their old age. They can stay mentally and physically fit because of their mixing with the society and social integration. They should not disengage from the society nut should remain active all the way.

The continuity theory says that the aging adult people will continue their activities, personality traits, behaviors and relationships same as before in their earlier lives (Kastenbaum, 2013).

This topic of aging can be viewed from the perspective of the conflict theory as well. The process of becoming old or aging becomes all the more relevant with the thinking process of an individual (Kastenbaum, 2013). The people find that the loss of memory after a certain age can cause aging. This theory emphasizes on the negative impacts of aging on the human beings. This focuses on the negative views about the old age and social discrimination for the elderly people (Victor, 2013). This theory suggests that the old age workers are devalued because of their less productivity in economy and their higher salaries (for their seniority, health benefits and other things) are regarded as people who drive capitalist profits instead of encouraging the proletariat or the labor class people (Kastenbaum, 2013).

Thus, out of this sociological research, it can be found that aging has a deep impact in the outlook of the human beings and their activities within the society. These theories of functionalism and conflict theory can be fitted into the viewpoint of the younger people of the society and how they look at the elderly people (Kastenbaum, 2013). Aging simply does not alienate older people from society but also sometimes establish their rights of seniority and experience as well.

Conclusion

This paper can be concluded by saying that aging is a very impactful social issue and this can leave a big effect on the old aged people. Aging is a very natural process because at sometime or the other, people will become older. This does not mean they will become separated from the society because of their age and inefficiency to work as they did before. This will lead to give them a special place of respect within the community. The negative impacts can also be felt in case of applying the conflict theory because the old aged people get higher salaries inflicting the bourgeoisie domination in the society. The functional theory also suggests different effects like disengagement, activity of the old age people and their continuity. As a whole, the aging process of human beings needs special care from the society.

References

Alexander, J. C. (2014). The Antinomies of Classical Thought: Marx and Durkheim (Theoretical Logic in Sociology) (Vol. 2). Routledge.

Collins, A. R. (2014). Measuring oxidative damage to DNA and its repair with the comet assay. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1840(2), 794-800.

Davidson, M. J. (2012). Women in management worldwide: Progress and prospects. Human Resource Management International Digest, 20(6).

Durkheim, E. (2013). Emile Durkheim on institutional analysis. University of Chicago Press.

Everett, B. (2013). An introduction to latent variable models. Springer Science & Business Media.

Frantzeskaki, N., Loorbach, D., & Meadowcroft, J. (2012). Governing societal transitions to sustainability. International Journal of Sustainable Development, 15(1-2), 19-36.

Henslin, J. M., Possamai, A. M., Possamai-Inesedy, A. L., Marjoribanks, T., & Elder, K. (2015). Sociology: A down to earth approach. Pearson Higher Education AU.

Kastenbaum, R. J. (Ed.). (2013). Contributions to the Psychobiology of Aging. Springer.

López-Otín, C., Blasco, M. A., Partridge, L., Serrano, M., & Kroemer, G. (2013). The hallmarks of aging. Cell, 153(6), 1194-1217.

Ritzer, G., & Stepnisky, J. (2017). Modern sociological theory. SAGE Publications.

Schumpeter, J. A. (2013). Capitalism, socialism and democracy. Routledge.

Scott, J. (2012). Sociological theory: Contemporary debates. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Shilling, C. (2012). The body and social theory. Sage.

Sylvester, C. M., Corbetta, M., Raichle, M. E., Rodebaugh, T. L., Schlaggar, B. L., Sheline, Y. I., ... & Lenze, E. J. (2012). Functional network dysfunction in anxiety and anxiety disorders. Trends in neurosciences, 35(9), 527-535.

Victor, C. R. (2013). Old age in modern society: A textbook of social gerontology. Springer.

Wright, E. O. (2016). Class, crisis and the state. Verso Books.

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